How time flies! If you haven’t already ordered your holiday cards, it’s time to get them. But with all the online print services available, which one will help you to create the perfect card, yet not get you bogged down by the interface? And, most important, which one will produce a card that you will be proud to share with your family, friends and associates?
Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideTo help you choose, we tested eight of the more popular sites for photo products: Apple Photo, GotPrint, Mixbook, Mpix, Picaboo, Shutterfly, Snapfish and Vistaprint.
Mixbook received our Editor's Choice for holiday photo cards, because its software does the best job when it comes to allowing you to be creative, while still being easy to use. The photo card Mixbook produced was beautifully printed, with great color, dynamic range and clarity. Apple Photo came in a close second, due to its great ease of use and very attractive print job.
Photo Card Services Ranked:
How We Tested
After glancing at which templates were available from the various vendors, we set out to design a flat, two-sided holiday photo card. We wanted it to be red with snowflakes, featuring one photo of two kids on the front and two photos of the same kids on the back. The photographs were taken by their mother (an amateur photographer) using a point-and-shoot camera. We did minor editing to the photos, such as cropping, and, in one case, brightening.
Then, we used each website’s online design software to create the card we envisioned, selecting a size as close to 5 x 7 inches as the vendor offered. Given the wide variety of paper available from the various vendors — which made it difficult to match the card stock in every instance — we selected the default stock and didn’t enable any of the envelope options.
In rating the software, we used the following criteria:
- Ease of use
- User interface and workflow
- Creative flexibility
- Quality of templates, clip art, backgrounds and effects
After our cards arrived, we assembled a jury of print and photography experts to rate them, based on the following criteria:
- Photo quality
- Color and skin tones
- Dynamic range
- Focus and clarity
- Quality of the type
- General appeal
While the members of the jury also commented on the paper stock, envelopes and the tactile feel of the cards, these were not part of the numerical rating, because we weren’t able to order similar paper stock for all of the cards.
In our ratings, we gave the greatest weight to the print quality of the service’s holiday photo cards. That’s because what matters most is the look and feel of the card you’ll be sending to friends, family and associates. We also took into consideration the cost of the cards and shipping.
|The Best Photo Book Services|
|The Best Custom-Printed Calendars|
|The Best Photo Editing Software|
|The Best Photo Management Apps|
|The Best Photo Storage Sites|
|The Best Filters for Your Lenses|